It’s Not How to Declutter, It’s Why

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There are numerous blogs and articles on how to declutter your home. There are even services that will do it for you and, naturally, it’s likely that your mother would love nothing more than to tell you everything you need to get rid of and why.

I’m not going to add to this “mess”; this isn’t a piece on clever ways to rid your closet of old clothes or nix the knickknacks on your living room shelves.

Because it’s simple…..

Knowing how to declutter only comes down to three little words: Throw shit away. Or, better yet, donate the good stuff.

Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

In my previous life, I was a slob…..

Okay, in the spirit of honesty, I still have tendencies that are very slob-adjacent. But I’m worlds apart from where I once stood (as my college roommates will candidly attest). Let’s just say back then my living space was much less ShamWow and much more ShamWowza. But – whatever – I was fun.

As I got older, I started to do something I never thought possible: Care about chaos.

It’s not like I woke up one morning and decided to Mop and Glo, taking breaks in between coats to write fanfiction about Mr. Clean. But I recognized a glorious truth in tidiness: The less stuff you have, the less there is to organize.

And that is, perhaps, the biggest reason to declutter. It’s a space saver, a timesaver, and a money saver – that power of Pine Sol doesn’t come free.

Of course, there are more reasons to declutter too and they have little to do with dirt and debris. Some of these include:

More mess means more stress: I wrote that because it rhymes and I’m a poet and I know it, but it’s also true according to science. Research finds that those who live in homes with more clutter experience higher levels of anxiety than those who go without. They find it harder to concentrate and focus as well, getting less done as a result.

Serenity now: As cliché as it sounds, a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. When a house is filled with books, dolls, or the dog’s tennis balls, it’s dysregulating and void of any sense of calm. And it’s a threat to your homeowner insurance – that croquet set is all fun and games until you trip over it while walking into the garage.

Finders, keepers: What do the City of Atlantis and Tupperware lids have in common? No one can find them. When a house is filled with junk, it often seems as though you need a GPS to locate everyday items. If it takes an hour to find the scissors, you just might feel like stabbing someone by the time you’re through.

Do it for Hulu: In many ways, organization begets organization: Once a home is rid of clutter, it takes much less energy to keep it clean. This frees you to do more important things or take a break and binge watch a favorite series. We all need “me time” and Hulu has your back – Hulu understands.

Grab onto gratitude: People who are minimalists sometimes become so because of the simplicity the lifestyle offers. Yet it’s an unexpected bonus that truly resonates: Gratitude. This happens, in part, because the less we have, the more we value. Both adults and children cultivate gratitude by removing clutter: Much to a child’s chagrin, they benefit from having fewer toys (not only from a gratefulness perspective but also a creative and interpersonal one).

Decluttering cultivates gratitude for another reason too: It provides the opportunity to ban the things you don’t really need or don’t really want. Thus, the stuff you keep is the stuff you truly care for.

Removing mess doesn’t mean eliminating everything from the home. Instead, aim to cut back and oust the things that don’t bring you joy or offer some practical benefit. And, if you keep some of the clutter, hide it away from the areas you frequent. I have 352 stuffed animals from my childhood stored in my basement crawlspace. And no one is the wiser. 

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